The Ab Exercise Women Shouldn't Do!

We all long for tight, rippling abs, right? But did you know that one ab exercise can actually make your waist bigger? Find out which one, and what to do instead.

The Ab Exercise You Shouldn't Be Doing

I'm going to take a wild guess and assume that while you might want good abs, you don't want a thicker waist. If that's the case, avoid performing weighted side bends. 
The problem with this exercise is that it directly targets the oblique muscles with large amounts of resistance. To understand why this is a "negative," you need to understand a bit of abdominal anatomy and how the obliques function.
The obliques are two different muscle groups (internal and external obliques) that originate from the lateral (side) portion of your lower ribs and insert into the line Alba, pubic tubercle, and the anterior (front) portion of the ilia c crest. The obliques wrap around your sides and help you rotate and bend your torso, and help with your spinal stability.

Normally, the obliques are visible only when you start getting rid of layers of body fat. But targeting these muscles directly with added resistance makes them bigger. Because the obliques are positioned mainly along the sides of your torso, the effect is to actually thicken your waist. Probably not the effect you're going for.
It's important to note that the weighted side bend isn't a bad exercise; in fact, many people like it because it strengthens your core, and some lifters actually want to increase the size of their waist. But if you're looking for that hourglass figure, you're better off skipping this move on ab day.

Ab Exercises To Whittle Your Waist

Target your heavier, added resistance exercises on your main ab muscles (the rectos abdominal or "six-pack muscles") themselves. You can still do exercises that target the obliques, but ditch the added resistance and stick to higher volume (more reps) that don't add mass.

Here are a few of my favorite exercises to light up your core up without bulking up your waist:

  • Lying leg raise 
  • Decline sit-up with twist (unweighted)
  • Hanging leg raise
  • Stability-ball pot stir 

How Often Should You Train Abs?

If you regularly do compound movements like lunges, squats, and dead-lifts, you're most of the way there. These exercises involve a good deal of core engagement and stabilization, so you're getting a good ab workout without doing any ab-specific exercises. But if you want to get your abs in shape for summer, consider doing one or two of these ab exercises a couple of times per week.
There's absolutely no reason you need to have a full "core day." If you start now by working these ab exercises into your regular program (and avoiding weighted side bends), you'll have a more defined core, and your summer body will be ready to go!
The Ab Exercise Women Shouldn't Do! The Ab Exercise Women Shouldn't Do! Reviewed by Powerhouse fitness on September 24, 2018 Rating: 5

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